With no press release it was initially a little difficult to figure out exactly who Nancy Scott is (Playboy's Playmate of the Month in March 1964? No. Influential theatre/movie critic for the San Francisco Examiner newspaper from the late 1970s to the early 1990s? No. Thanks, though, Wikipedia). However, by googling the label, I discovered that it was this Nancy Scott
, the self-described "talented sound artist" working out of Spindleworks, a non-profit art centre in Maine for adults with intellectual disabilities. I think that makes Nancy an "outsider" experimental sound artist, and that also makes this disc -- essentially a collage of mostly untreated field-recordings -- especially interesting.
"Okay, so what's this actually sound like?" you're asking. The content is fairly evenly divided between prose-poem recitations and abstract field recordings. The poetry is a not-unexpected bizarre collision between social-realism and surrealism -- "The Squeaky Cart", edited into a round of sorts and accompanied by the sound of someone wiping down a table (?) is one of my favourites, concluding with the line "the squeaking shopping cart needs WD40 to get rid of the squeaking noise". The opening piece "Green Guy's Problems" makes me laugh every time -- "he needs to go see a psychiatrist for his problems, now he's eating his foot!" and so on. As for the sound pieces, there's nothing out of the ordinary but at the same time it's ALL out of the ordinary. On "Happy Birthday, Lloyd" a tender voice softly sings the well-known song while accompanied by a burbling alien synthesiser. Nancy is an accomplished weaver and the longest piece here, "Weaving", is an accurate sound portrait of a session on the loom. The disc closes with a two-minute free noise jam -- participants appear to be playing cigar-box banjo, bowed aluminium sheet, theremin and log drum (but don't take my word for it) -- which wouldn't be out of place on one of the more "difficult" Amon D??l albums.
Everyone is surely familiar with the visual art studios operated by places like Spindleworks, but who really ever imagined that their "clients" could move into producing multi-media work. Usually there's not anything like the amount of resourcing available to support that kind of practice. This has shattered my expectations and opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Brilliant! I have had first-hand experience with a centre similar to Spindleworks, and artists like Nancy Scott, and in listening to this album I am immediately familiar with the voices, the sounds, the lilting vocal patterns, the exclamations and mutterings; I'm transported straight to certain places and times and loaded with their associated emotional memories. With all that in mind I can't provide anything even approaching an objective evaluation, but so what -- it's fun, charming as hell, and recommended. 6/10 -- Young Savage (19 June, 2007)